Saturday, June 17, 2017

Coconut Bread

This is a simple bread that uses coconut milk and the grated coconut from fresh dried coconut for a delicious and substantial white bread.
Coconut bread, sliced

Prepare the dried coconut. I freeze the coconut. This makes it easier to remove from the shell. Slice the nut in convenient pieces and use a food processor to grind with about two cups water. Pulverize the coconut until it is relatively fine. Strain to remove the milk. Reserve the milk and the grated stuff in separate containers.

Flour, 6 or 7 cups, plus more
Water, 1 cup
Yeast, one heaping teaspoon
Salt, one heaping teaspoon
Coconut milk, one cup
Grated coconut, one to two cups

The night before, mix three cups flour, salt, yeast and water. Cover and leave overnight.

Next morning, mix in the coconut milk and grated coconut. Add more flour, three cups, mixing until just incorporated in the dough. No need to knead more than a couple minutes.Add more flour as you knead the dough, until it holds together. Shape into a ball and rest for an hour or so.

Dust a little more flour on the hands so you can handle the dough. Grease a cast iron pot or platter, and put the dough in the middle. Cover and allow it to raise about two hours or until small cracks appear on the surface and the dough has more than doubled.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Put bread in the middle. Bake for about 40-45 minutes. Turn off heat and leave in the oven for another 10-15 minutes.  Cool on a bread board well before slicing.

Slice a round bread across the diameter. Then you can slice each half towards the diameter

Slices from half a round bread

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Baigan Pakoras

These are tasty fritters of baigan (melongene) slices coated in chick pea batter and fried. Serve them as snack food, with spicy chutney or a peppery sauce.

Baigan fritters, or pakoras

The Batter:
Chick peas powder, one cup
White flour, half to 3/4 cup
Salt, half teaspoon
Baking powder, teaspoon
Curry powder, heaping teaspoon (I used Chitra's Tropickle hand blended curry powder from the Green Market)
Water, one cup plus tablespoon(s) more as needed for a thick not runny batter

Melongene, one large firm but yielding
Coconut oil, one cup and more to deep fry

Slice the melongene in rounds. Sprinkle lightly with salt and allow to "spring water." Squeeze out and discard more liquid from the sliced melongene. Be careful not to tear the melongene slices.

Mix the melongene slices into the batter gently. Heat oil in a frying pan at medium. Make sure that each slice is coated in batter, and fry in the hot oil. Turn once and drain on absorbent paper or brown paper or newspaper.
Frying baigan fritters in coconut oil

Serve with a delicious tamarind or mango chutney.
This batter - like Japanese tempura - may be used for other vegetables, such as broccoli, sweet peppers, caraille. The batter may be dropped by teaspoonsful into hot oil for puhloorees.

Melongene slices, salted and squeezed

Batter made with chick pea powder and seasoned with curry powder.

Oatmeal cookies with Cocobel chips

This is a standard oatmeal cookie, from the Mom's Best old fashioned oats box. You can make it your own with raisins, special chocolate chips, nuts, chia or flaxseed.

Brown sugar, one cup
Butter, four ounces or one stick
Egg, one large
Salt, half teaspoon
Flour, 3/4 cup
Baking powder, half teaspoon
Old-fashioned oats, two cups
Cocobel chips, generous half cup

Cream sugar and butter (I use a spoon or fork to mix the sugar and butter.)
Beat in the egg.

Mix in flour, salt and baking powder. Add oats, nuts, chocolate chips.
Drop by tablespoons or teaspoons on ungreased baking sheets. Make sure they are wide enough apart not to run into each other.

Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool enough to use a spatula to remove from the sheets.
Oatmeal with chocolate chips

If the cookies run together in baking, just cut them apart before they cool completely.

Overnight bread

This is a variation on the Iron Pot Bread that I've already posted four years ago. See the link here:

Flour, four cups white to one whole wheat (you can experiment with combinations)
Salt, teaspoon
Instant yeast, one teaspoon
Water, two cups

Mix together in a very big bowl. Bread is an inexact art, so a little more flour might make it stiffer, a little more water will make a gooey sponge. Cover and leave overnight (or for at least four or five hours.)

Next morning:
Add flour, a handful at a time, and mix into a big ball. Use your hands to knead. The dough should be soft and spongy rather than stiff. Cover and leave for an hour or so.

Grease an iron pot, deep ovenproof dish, or flat heatproof tray (a tawa works fine). I use a slick of coconut oil. Roll and reshape the dough ball with floured hands and put in the middle of the pot or tawa. Cover and leave for a few hours or until the dough has risen, about double.

Heat oven to 425F or 230C. Cover pot and bake bread for half hour; uncover (careful, very very hot) and bake for another half hour. If you are not using a pot, bake for 45 minutes or until the bread has a hollow sound when knocked. Cool well before slicing.

This was made in an iron pot, hence the perfect round!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Fragrant Roast Chicken

The special spices used to flavour this roast chicken are selected for fragrance and taste, to open the appetite, to aid digestion and be soothing on the stomach. It was specially created for persons who may be sensitive to strong seasonings like pepper, onion and garlic. The basic overnight marination applies, though you can get away with marinating for just a few hours. As always, preparation is as important as cooking.

Roasting slow and low keeps the meat moist and juicy; basting with the pan juices gives the golden colour.

Whole chicken, about 3-4 lbs, cut in halves down the back and breast bones
Salt, 2 heaping teaspoons

Spice rub:
Whole geera (cumin), heaping teaspoon
Coriander, teaspoon
Star anise, 2 or 3 whole flowers
Ginger, piece the size of the thumb, chopped
Brown sugar, 3-4 heaping teaspoons
Soy sauce, 2-3 teaspoons

Clean chicken and split in two. Rub with salt, cover and refrigerate overnight (or about 3-4 hours).

In the morning, grind spices (geera, coriander, star anise, ginger). I use a coffee grinder.
Mix the ground spices with sugar and soy sauce.

Drain the chicken from any bloody water that may have accumulated. Put some spice rub under the skin between thigh and breast. Put some on the inside cavity. Rub all over the skin on wings and legs.
Allow to marinate for at least 2-3 hours.

Heat oven to 330 to 340F. Slow and low is one way to achieve moist chicken whose juices mingle well with your marinade.

Place chicken halves in a baking dish and pour any seasonings over the skin. Bake for 2 to 3 hours in all. After the first hour, pour off the juices and use to baste the chicken. Do this every half hour for the 2-3 hours of cooking.

Cool before cutting the chicken. Serve with mashed potatoes or white rice and a simple salad.

Serve pan juices on the side, so they can be used with mashed potatoes or white rice.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Green Days

Warm seasons are salad days: crisp raw lettuce or arugula tossed in olive oil and celery vinegar, sea salt and fresh ground pepper; topped with chopped raw mushrooms, hard-boiled eggs or tart dried cranberries.

But when the weather is colder, and the greens are heartier - broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, gai'lan, chinese cabbage, kale, mustard, choysum or bokchoy as well as those that we eat the roots of, daikon (moorai), turnip, radish - you'd do well to serve your greenstuff cooked and warm.

These greens are high in vitamin C and soluble fibre, and you need to know how to cook lightly and not kill the goodness. They belong to the family called Cruciferae (cruciferous or "cross-bearing" because the four petals of their flowers resemble a cross) or Brassicaceae.

Two heads of broccoli for two or three persons

Today, we'll serve broccoli. Not smothered in a heavy cheesy white sauce, which is yummy too; but cooked and served with an early supper. Good by itself; with a side of meat or mushrooms; or with fluffy white rice.

Broccoli head (one head for two persons)
Garlic, one or two cloves, finely chopped
Olive oil, tablespoon or two
Himalayan pink salt
Splash of vinegar (or squeeze of lemon), optional

Wash broccoli and shake off water. Cut the stem end and strip tough outer skin. Slice the stem in half-inch rounds and cut the florets in bite-size bouquets. Arrange in a bowl. Top with chopped garlic, salt and generous olive oil. Microwave for three minutes. Remove and toss. Check whether it is cooked enough for your taste. If you want a more tender broccoli, microwave for another minute; test and cook 30 seconds more as you like.
Broccoli, stripped and cut up, with chopped garlic and olive oil

Steam for three minutes in the microwave. Test for crunch or "doneness."

Broccoli seasoned with garlic, Himalayan salt and olive oil, on a bed of white rice!

Gai'lan is a good green to serve with stir-fried thinly sliced beef. Cook the meat first, then add chopped greens. Or cook separately. 

Gai'lan stems with green leaves, three or four stems per person
Garlic, clove crushed
Ginger, small piece chopped
Sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon or to taste
Grapeseed oil, two tablespoons

Wash gai'lan and shake off water. Strip stems and cut in rounds or lengths. Cut up leaves and put in a separate bowl.

Heat oil, add garlic and ginger and salt. Saute stems for about two minutes.  Add leaves and toss until they start wilting. Turn off and allow the greens to sit for a minute. Serve by itself with rice, or as a bed for slices of cooked beef or pork.

Not gai'lan, this is bok choy. Cooking method is the same.

Gai'lan lightly cooked with ginger, garlic and olive oil!


Pork tenderloin, half loin (about six ounces)
Soy sauce, tablespoon
Brown sugar, half teaspoon
Ginger, small piece, crushed and chopped
Garlic, two cloves chopped
Oil, two tablespoons
Cornstarch, half teaspoon

Season tenderloin in soy sauce, sugar and ginger, at least half hour or longer.
Heat pan at medium, add oil. Add garlic. Put meat in and allow to brown on all sides. Add the marinade seasonings. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and allow to cook about 8-10 minutes. Add cornstarch to a couple tablespoons water and add to pot. Cook for a minute more. Remove from heat, slice tenderloin in thin slices and serve on top of cooked gai-lan, with white rice on the side.

You can cook tender strips of beef instead of pork tenderloin. Season beef with soy sauce, sugar and ginger. Stir-fry quickly (within three minutes) and use cornstarch to make a sauce. Serve on gai'lan, with rice on the side.

My tried and true method is two cups water to one of rice.
Bring rice and water to the boil, at high heat. Once the water is boiling vigorously, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and allow rice to absorb all water. Your rice should be cooked in 10 minutes. Use a fork to toss rice.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Ricotta Pancakes

These moist fluffy cake-like pancakes were featured in Bonappetit October 2015.
They get their moistness from ricotta; their lightness from beaten egg whites; and fresh flavour from lemon zest.
We don't like a lengthy process for breakfast so here's my simplified version.
Have all ingredients ready. Oil your griddle or frying pan.

Mix moist ingredients in one bowl:
Eggs, 4 yolks
Ricotta, one and a half cups
Milk, three quarters cup
Lemon zest, one teaspoon grated

Beat egg whites until fluffy, about 3 to5 minutes.

Mix dry ingredients:
Flour, one cup
Sugar, one teaspoon
Salt, barely a teaspoon
Baking powder, one and a half teaspoon

Whisk moist ingredients, add dry ingredients. Beat in fluffy egg whites.

Drop half cups of batter onto hot griddle. Flip when bubbly.
Serve with butter and honey or maple syrup (original organic from Canada here), and fresh fruit or stewed guavas.